KOSPI jumps most in a year on hopes of market reforms by president elect

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  • KOSPI rises most since Feb 2021, foreigners net sellers
  • Korean won strengthens against U.S. dollar
  • South Korea benchmark bond yield rises

BENGALURU, March 10 (Reuters) - South Korean shares posted their biggest jump in more than a year on Thursday, buoyed by hopes of investor-friendly market reforms by president elect Yoon Suk-yeol, while oil paring steep gains also lifted sentiment.

The benchmark KOSPI (.KS11) ended up 57.92 points, or 2.21%, at 2,680.32, its sharpest rise since Feb. 25, 2021, cheering former top prosecutor Yoon's win that signalled a turn for capital market deregulation for Asia's fourth-largest economy. read more

One of Yoon's key pledges is to scrap capital gains tax on stocks and ensure retail investors could make profits.

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He has also pledged to improve rules on short-selling of stocks and protect individual investors from spin-off initial public offerings.

"Yoon's financial market-related pledges can be summarised as revitalisation of capital market... Such moves would lift the attractiveness of shares and draw long-term investors," said Choi Yoo-june, an analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp.

Although Yoon's pledges are focused on protecting retail investors, institutions also see themselves eventually benefiting.

"Anyway (those moves) will be a 'thank you' to institutional investors. These will add boost to the markets... and lead to stronger inflow of overseas passive and active funds," a Seoul-based fund manager, who did not want to be named.

Sentiment was also helped by a regional rebound, as end of a commodity price rally led to speculation that weeks of market gyrations may have priced in the Russia-Ukraine conflict's economic impact.

Heavyweights Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) and SK Hynix (000660.KS) led gains, jumping 2.45% and 1.69%, respectively.

Platform companies Naver (035420.KS) and Kakao (035720.KS) also surged 8.54% and 8.58%, respectively, both marking their sharpest gains in nearly two years, helped by hopes of Yoon potentially making ways for removing regulatory hurdles for platform operators.

On the main board, institutional investors gobbled up 765.4 billion won ($622.58 million) worth shares, while foreigners sold net 426.4 billion won worth shares.

The won ended at 1,228.3 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform , 0.71% higher than its previous close.

($1 = 1,229.4100 won)

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Reporting by Cynthia Kim, Joori Roh; Additional reporting by Jihoon Lee; Editing by Rashmi Aich

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